I often wonder what it means for me to be successful in my writing. Today was one of those days. The first thing that made it successful actually happened earlier this week, but it is not a sure thing, so I am not going to speak of it further as I don’t want to jinx it. The second, I will discuss.
I have mentioned for awhile a story that I was working on getting transcribed and it was moving rather slowly. The initial story was written by hand – and a rather dark story. I liked it that way. I felt it had a good voice and told a story worth reading. As I transcribed it a dark humor came from the character which I didn’t particularly like. Sometimes though I believe the story has to tell itself. A few weeks ago, I read the first half to a fairly positive response. They gave me some pointers which really helped and in reading it aloud to others, I caught some things that did not work for me.
Now it was time to finish typing/revising the rest and every time I began to work on it, I was distracted and could not seem to get it completed. Last night I made the effort to actually get it done and before this evenings meeting I fine-tuned it to the point that I thought it would be presentable to the group. It was there, I wasn’t quite sure of the end, seemed a little dull to the rest of the story, but I also made some changes to it that allowed it to end.
I was lucky enough to get to read tonight. The response was wonderful at times, I found myself pausing because the laughter was taking away from the next sentence. One time I even laughed at a part I had just read and had to apologize to get back on focus to read. This story which was not funny to me, which I did not want to be funny, was actually funny. The odd thing is that today when I reviewed the story before reading it to the group – I was pleased because I felt more of the dark story was back. When reading it to the group, I think I realized that I had finally succumbed to the humor and realized it was important to the story.
The critiques were much better than I had expected. My group is wonderful about catching words which are repeated – I always appreciate that because that is something I often miss. Sometimes, there is this desire for more detail, ‘I need to know what smells, sounds, descriptions of what the blood looked like.’ I realized that I had left much of that out of this story so I was prepared to hear some of that. I heard only one – there is one sound that one person felt was needed. I will look at it. This read felt good, I was so pleasantly surprised at the praise it received and besides the group leader writing ‘wow‘ on her note to me, she pointed out when one of my peers commented that he believes it is ‘sheer genius‘ when a writer can create and tell a story that happens in such a small space – he went on to explain that he was referring to the fact that this story happens in the space of something like 30 square feet. I can’t do justice to his compliment without feeling like I am embellishing (one of the nice things about the written critiques in addition to the verbal – but they are not required and he didn’t do one.) Anyhow – who wouldn’t love having someone refer to one of their stories as having an element of ‘sheer genius?’Another comment which really was positive and brought me a sense of pride was a peer’s comment that he liked my ‘first person narrative.‘
Often, I put my stories away after a critique. I allow them to sit for awhile and then edit them before looking at my notes again. I am not sure I will be doing that with this story. I am going to leave it alone until the weekend and then I want to edit it. I have a couple of magazines in mind aleady for where to start submitting and can hardly wait to get it out there.
I started this post off talking about the success of writing and what it means – to me it means, finishing a story, writing, hearing praise and feeling proud of what I have written. What does it mean to you to have a ‘writing success?’